Ever wondered what the norms for tipping are in Africa? Or whether you can use your credit card on safari? Or what currencies you’ll need to carry in cash? Here, we have compiled all our best tips and information on credit cards, cash and tipping in Africa. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions!

Why is this important?

Making sure that you have enough cash to make purchases, or small enough denominations to give tips, is an important preparation for your safari. Many camps and lodges only accept MasterCard or Visa credit cards, and a number of artisanal local craftsmen are only able to accept small cash denominations as payment. Tipping is also an important supplement to the income of many staff in lodges, and has become a way of expressing guest gratitude in the case that staff have provided good service. Additionally, many border-issued visas and permits require payment in pre-drawn USD cash amounts, with not much change available for larger notes. So, it’s good to read ahead now and make sure that you are prepared and ready for your safari!

Special Note: Cash Shortages in Zimbabwe
You may have heard that banks in Zimbabwe, both international and local, are experiencing an acute shortage of US dollar cash notes supply. As a result, a limit has been placed on the amount of cash that an be withdrawn at ATMs and bank counters.

This is an unfortunate limitation that calls for a small amount of additional preparation prior to arriving in Zimbabwe: bringing pre-drawn amounts of US dollars or SA rand. British pounds, Euros and Botswana Pula cash notes are also accepted for most transactions in Zimbabwe. Hotels, lodges, restaurants and larger shops who normally accept credit card payments are continuing to process these as usual. Ideally, you would make sure to bring across cash amounts in small denominations, as this is important for tipping and more informal purchases at markets.

Although we believe this shortage to be temporary, no one really knows when the normal, unrestricted supply of US dollar cash notes will resume. Zimbabwe remains a beautiful, welcoming and diverse country and we look forward to seeing you here!

South Africa

 

Credit Cards & Cash

✓ The currency in South Africa is the Rand (‘ZAR’).
✓ ATMs are widely available in South Africa, as are outlets for converting foreign currency.
✓ Travellers taking goods out of South Africa are able to reclaim VAT (14%) for their purchases. Reclaim offices can be found in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town international airports.
✓ Most major credit cards are accepted in the country, although Visa and MasterCard more commonly than others.
✓ Note: Cash is required for payment for permits (similar to a visa) at the border.

Tipping

✓ Transfer drivers: ZAR 20 per guest for a driver (after each drive).
✓ Tour drivers (not at camps or lodges): ZAR 80 per guest for a half day. For a full day tour, we would recommend ZAR 160 per guest.
✓ Safari guides & trackers: ZAR 200 per guest, per day for the guide, and ZAR 100 per guest, per day for the tracker.
✓ Porter/luggage carrier: ZAR 20 per guest, each time your luggage is carried.
✓ Hotel, lodge and camp staff: ZAR 80 per guest, per day for members of staff (such as housekeepers).
✓ Restaurants: 10% of the total bill. For larger groups of 10 or more people, some restaurants charge a mandatory service fee to the final bill.
✓ Train attendants & waiters: ZAR 120 per guest, per day for the attendant, and ZAR 80 per guest, per journey for the waiter.

Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya & Tanzania

 

Credit Cards & Cash

✓ These countries have their own currencies, but the US dollar is widely used enough that it is accepted by most vendors.
✓ ATMs are widely available in major cities, as are outlets for converting foreign currency.
✓ Travellers taking goods out of these countries are able to reclaim VAT or their purchases. Reclaim offices can be found in most major international airports.
✓ Most major credit cards are accepted in these countries, although Visa and MasterCard more commonly than others. American Express and Diners cards are not accepted in certain countries, such as Mozambique.
✓ Please note that some regions, such as Livingstone in Zambia, are known for charging high commissions on credit card transactions. Although the problem is intermittent, problems have occasionally been reported with more remote lodges processes credit card payments (hence, many stays in these areas are booked as fully inclusive, aside from premium brand alcohol).
✓ Note: Cash is required for payment for permits/visas at some borders. Read up on our passport and visa requirements to see whether you’ll require cash at these borders.
✓ Please also note that dollar bills printed prior to 2003 are not accepted in Kenya, due to anti-counterfeit measures (as well as large denominations, in some cases).

Tipping

✓ Transfer drivers: USD 4 per guest for a driver (after each drive).
✓ Tour drivers (not at camps or lodges): USD 10 per guest for a half day. For a full day tour, we would recommend USD 15 per guest.
✓ Safari guides & trackers: USD 20 per guest, per day for the guide, and USD 10 per guest, per day for the tracker.
✓ Porter/luggage carrier: USD 4 per guest, each time your luggage is carried.
✓ Hotel, lodge and camp staff: USD 10-15 per guest, per day for members of staff (such as housekeepers).
✓ Restaurants: 10% of the total bill. For larger groups of 10 or more people, some restaurants charge a mandatory service fee to the final bill.

Namibia

 

Credit Cards & Cash

✓ The currency in Namibia is the Namibia dollar (‘N’). The South African Rand (‘ZAR’) is also accepted in Namibia, and can be used to purchase goods and services. Note that the Namibian dollar cannot be used in South Africa.
✓ ATMs are available in larger towns, but not in more remote regions.
✓ Most major credit cards are accepted in the country, although Visa and MasterCard more commonly than others.
✓ Travellers taking goods out of Namibia are able to reclaim VAT (15%) for their purchases.

Tipping

✓ Transfer drivers: N 20 per guest for a driver (after each drive).
✓ Tour drivers (not at camps or lodges): N 80 per guest for a half day. For a full day tour, we would recommend N 160 per guest.
✓ Safari guides & trackers: N 200 per guest, per day for the guide, and N 100 per guest, per day for the tracker.
 ✓ Porter/luggage carrier: N 20 per guest, per bag.
✓ Hotel, lodge and camp staff: N 80 per guest, per day for members of staff (such as housekeepers).
✓ Restaurants: 10% of the total bill. For larger groups of 10 or more people, some restaurants charge a mandatory service fee to the final bill.

Madagascar

 

Credit Cards & Cash

✓ The currency in Madagascar is the Ariary (‘AR’). However, Euros (‘EUR’) are the most practical currencies to exchange into Ariary if you wait to exchange currencies until you are at a Madagascan airport.
✓ ATMs are available in larger towns, such as Antananarivo and Tulear,
✓ Travellers taking goods out of Madagascar are able to reclaim VAT (20%) for their purchases.
✓ Most major credit cards are accepted in top hotels, towns and resorts in Madagascar, but have limited usage elsewhere.

Tipping

✓ Although locals in Madagascar rarely tip, it is generally expected that tourists will tip for good service.
✓ Transfer drivers: AR 10,000 per guest for a driver (each day).
✓ Tour drivers (not at camps or lodges): AR 10,000 per guest, per day.
✓ Safari guides & trackers: AR 20,000 per guest, per day for the guide, and AR 10,000 per guest, per day for the tracker.
✓ Porter/luggage carrier: AR 2,000 per guest, per bag.
✓ Hotel, lodge and camp staff: AR 2,000 per guest, per day for members of staff (such as housekeepers).
✓ Restaurants: 10% of the total bill. For larger groups of 10 or more people, some restaurants charge a mandatory service fee to the final bill.